‘The Caller’ Review: This Film Should Have Aired on Lifetime

The Caller

Home invasion is my favorite horror subgenre. It’s arguably the most grounded in reality and has unlimited potential to terrify on that basis. On my quest for the next great home invasion chiller, I checked out Richard Anthony Dunford’s The Caller (not to be confused with the 2011 film of the same name). Though it isn’t the next great home invasion film, I will say that this flick comes dangerously close to being a serviceable horror thriller. Even though the picture features a fairly generic setup that may have worked better as a Lifetime original, The Caller still shows a certain level of competency and manages to be moderately entertaining. 

The Caller follows Izzy (Sarah Alexandra Marks) as she embarks on a housesitting endeavor at the behest of her crypto bro uncle. She is a customer service rep for a bank and arranges to work remotely during the gig. Late one evening, Izzy takes a call from a disgruntled patron (Eric Roberts) that only becomes more unpleasant as the conversation continues. The caller eventually begins harassing Izzy, threatening to come find her. Before long, she discovers that the threats are anything but idle. What follows is a harrowing ordeal that sees Izzy coming face-to-face with evil incarnate.  

Although the film never really reaches the point of seamless execution, it gets enough right to qualify as reasonably entertaining. Sarah Alexandra Marks turns in a serviceable showing as Izzy. I appreciate that even though she sees her job as a dead end and despises it, she still shows up and gives it her best effort every day. We get to see her thriving in chaotic situations and thinking on her feet. Those qualities make for a formidable final femme.  

While I think Izzy is a quality character with plenty of potential, I do wish she had been given a little more room to demonstrate her resourceful nature in the third act. Matters conclude not long after the intruder arrives on the scene. I would have loved to have seen a little more cat-and-mouse between Izzy and the demented caller. Home invasion is such a terrifying premise, leaning into the terror inherent to the setup would have gone a long way.  

In addition to a bit more cat-and-mouse, I’d also have liked to have seen more strategic editing and musical accompaniment. The sequence where the intruder is creeping up behind Izzy while she’s taking part in a virtual spinning class could have been really intense. But the song playing in the background sort of robs the scene of the tension inherent to the setup. A bit of simplistic orchestral accompaniment or even silence would have worked far better. Moreover, the way the footage is assembled keeps the scene from being as imposing as it might have otherwise been. As it stands, the third act showdown with the disgruntled caller gets the job done but it left me wanting a bit more. 

Also Read: ‘There’s Something in the Barn’ Review: Elf On The Shelf Has Nothing On This Guy

Some of the film’s other shortcomings include underwhelming fight choreography, lackluster color grading (especially in the outdoor sequences), and an overall lack of polish. However, I want to note that I am still impressed by what Anthony Dunford accomplished on what I can only assume is a modest budget. Even though the director doesn’t get everything right, The Caller still succeeds in being moderately suspenseful. 

The Caller ultimately works best when it subverts expectations. There are a couple of scenes where I was expecting a particular outcome and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was mistaken. The occasional misdirection kept my mind from drifting. I may not have been riveted but I was at least reasonably well entertained for most of the film’s runtime.  

If you’re not a die-hard fan of home invasion horror, your mileage may vary. But I think The Caller shows a certain level of promise. I look forward to seeing what Dunford does next and I would suggest checking this film out if you are a home invasion enthusiast. Don’t expect perfection, suspend your disbelief, and you might just find that the narrative is enticing enough to sustain your interest for 90 minutes. You could certainly do worse. 

You can check The Caller out on digital now. 

  • ‘The Caller'


‘The Caller’ isn’t necessarily a great movie. But there are worse ways to pass 90-minutes.

User Rating 0 (0 votes)


Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter